Environmental and Policy Focus

EPA proposes rules to lower sulfur in fuel

Insurance For Less - Mar 29

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules last week that will require lower-sulfur fuels to reduce smog-causing emissions from cars and trucks beginning in 2017. The long-awaited rule would increase the price of gas by a penny a gallon or up to 9 cents, based on varying analyses cited by EPA and environmental groups and the oil industry. The proposal also requires vehicles to meet tighter emissions standards at a cost of about $130 a vehicle in 2025. Once fully implemented, EPA says the standards will help avoid up to 2,400 premature deaths per year and prevent 23,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children. Sulfur in gas has to be reduce by more than 60% in 2017, EPA says.

Home Depot pays $8 million to settle California paint lawsuit

Consumer Reports - Apr 2

Home Depot has agreed to pay $8 million dollars in fees and costs for selling paints in Southern California that allegedly violated the region's limit of 50 grams of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, per liter. The lawsuit was initially filed against Home Depot in July 2011. It came after Air Quality Management District inspectors claimed that noncompliant paints were found at more than two dozen stores.

Center for Biological Diversity sues federal government over gray wolves

CourtHouse News - Apr 1

Endangered wolves that wander into Arizona and New Mexico from the north and south risk indefinite capture under research permits the federal government issued illegally, the Center for Biological Diversity claims in court. The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in Federal Court. The Tucson-based environmental group claims the defendants approved a permit in 2011 under which "endangered wolves that enter Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico or the Northern Rocky Mountains population can be captured or trapped and relocated to the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (where they will be treated for all purposes as part of the nonessential experimental population), returned to Mexico, or placed indefinitely in a captive breeding facility."

EPA to review flame retardants amid safety concerns

The Guardian - Mar 29

The Obama administration is to review the safety of 20 flame retardants used in a host of common household items, from baby products and children's pajamas to sofa cushions. The review, to be carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, follows growing concern about the widespread use of such chemicals, after studies linking flame retardants to cancer, lower IQ, developmental problems, and decreased fertility.

New legislative effort to ban some plastic bags in California

Ventura County Star - Apr 1

An Assembly committee on Monday backed a 2013 version of a bill that would require shoppers to bring a reusable cloth bag or purchase a recycled paper bag at the checkout stand.

California groups seek ban on rice pesticide

Sacramento CBS Local - Mar 29

California environmentalists say a proposal by state pesticide regulators to allow spraying of a controversial pesticide on rice fields in the Sacramento Valley could harm aquatic organisms and honeybees. Groups submitted a comment letter to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation on Thursday, asking the agency to withdraw the proposal for approving clothianidin for use on rice. The chemical is already registered in the state for uses on cotton, grapes and other plants.

Report: Oklahoma earthquakes linked to injection wells

Los Angeles Times - Mar 27

Oklahoma’s largest-recorded earthquake was triggered by injection wells used by the oil and gas industry, according to a report released this week. The Tuesday report in the geoscience journal Geology is the latest scientific evidence suggesting injection wells may be causing an uptick in earthquakes nationwide. However, the report was viewed skeptically by Oklahoma's official seismologist.